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Health

Fact Check: Blue Cross Of Idaho Will Cover Hospital Stays For The Unvaccinated

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Steven Cornfield
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A viral video on the social media platform TikTok suggests insurance companies won’t pay for your hospital stay if you refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. But Idaho’s largest health insurer says that’s not true.

“The insurance company has every right not to pay for your stay because it’s considered a preventable disease,” the TikTok user EmilyLyoness said in the video seen by 2.4 million people.

But Peter Sorensen, a vice president at Blue Cross of Idaho who oversees individual plans like those on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, emphatically rejects that.

“No, we will not deny any coverage,” Sorensen said

Insurance plans have contracts outlining what a company will or won’t cover. Sorensen says they don’t pay for procedures that aren’t deemed medically necessary, such as cosmetic surgery, or procedures that are experimental. But vaccines aren’t in that mix, he said.

“I think it’s a really sticky road to go down to say that you’re going to do something that’s punitive around somebody’s personal health decision.”

Sorensen said he hasn’t heard of other insurers refusing to cover hospital stays for unvaccinated people either.

Some companies, like Delta Airlines, are charging unvaccinated people more for health coverage, but Sorensen said Blue Cross of Idaho is instead offering incentives, such as waiving co-pays to visit a doctor to get a vaccine.

The three vaccines in the U.S., which have either been fully approved by the FDA or have received emergency use authorization, are effective at significantly reducing the chance of serious illness from contracting the coronavirus.

They’re also safe. Serious side effects have occurred, though they’re exceptionally rare.

Idahoans have been much more hesitant to getting vaccinated than the rest of the country. As of Friday, just 49% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the state compared to 61.7% of people nationwide.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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